The final day of the Tour de France was, appropriately enough, celebrated by several thousand middle-aged men affecting the Bradley Wiggins look in central Edinburgh. By happy coincidence, Paul Weller was also here to play the Castle.
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There’s a moment, about an hour into the set, where the partially cloud-covered sun dips below the ramparts, the lights are up, the braziers are lit on the castle walls and Paul Weller asks “are you all having a nice time? That’s the most important thing, isn’t it?” He then casually says “here’s another tune”, before launching into That’s Entertainment.
It is like flicking a switch. Everyone is up, as are the hairs on the backs of their necks and all is as it should be – an unforgettable moment with one of the finest songwriters of his generation. Unfortunately, it’s not clear that anyone other than hardcore Weller fans have actually been having all that nice a time so far. The setting may be magnificent, but the set-list isn’t. While Weller is in fine voice, the mood rarely gets beyond muted appreciation for that opening hour.
For any artist with Weller’s longevity, there’s always the problem of how many folk you can please, and for how much of the allotted time, moving between “greatest hits jukebox” and “new stuff”. But even allowing for that, there was surely room to chuck a hungry crowd some more bones.
Wake up the Nation, Changing Man, Start! from The Jam and My Ever Changing Moods from the Style Council were highlights, as was the Wishing on a Star cover, but there were chunks of stodge in between these pleasing toppings.
It was, still, all lapped up by devotees but, equally, a lot of people left before and during the encore. More fool those who did go early – A Town Called Malice was mighty and washed away some if not all of the frustration at what had gone before.